Donnie Veal, a lefty pitching prospect, was selected by the Cubs in the second round of the 2005 Draft. He's currently with the Tennessee Smokies, Chicago's Minor League affiliate in the Double-A Southern League.
Well, the end of the year is here, and for some odd reason all around the Southern League temperatures are hotter than they've been all year. If someone could turn the humidity down a little that would be great. The dugouts feel like saunas right now. A lot of guys are just ready to go home. You can see it in some guys' faces and posture. It's a long season and I understand. My team is still in a playoff race so nobody has shut it down yet. We are trying to win a ring, and we're playing like it too.
September call-ups are right around the corner, and everyone is doing what they can to get the big league club's attention. In September, Major League rosters are expanded from 25- to 40-man rosters. So that means 15 guys have a shot to get called up. On many teams, you'll see guys still hustling and running every ball out although their team may have no chance of making the playoffs. After all, the ultimate goal is to get to the Major Leagues.
Mr. Cleven asks: What things are coaches teaching you on days that you aren't pitching? Do you practice pitching every day?
Yes, we practice everyday. All the pitchers play catch and throw either in a bullpen or on flat ground. The pitching coach mainly watches to make sure we're doing things right. He doesn't really teach us anything new.
John Paul asks: I was wondering what exactly you have done in your last few starts to regain your form? All of a sudden, browsing through your game log it seems like everything has clicked. Was it something in your mechanics, your release point or just mental?
Well, I mixed in another ugly outing, but for the most part the last few have been pretty good. There was a little mechanical issue there, but most of my problem was mental. Confidence is a huge part of baseball. It can make a mediocre player good, and a good player great. On the flip side, it can make a great player mediocre if he loses his confidence, and mine was definitely shaken earlier this year. I just needed to remind myself that I got here for a reason.
Matthew Jordan asks: Who has been the toughest hitter to get out that you have faced in Minor League Baseball?
The toughest hitters that I have faced are the little guys that don't strike out, but will foul balls off until you throw what they want. J.C. Holt is the only one that comes to mind right now.
Donnie Veal is a pitching prospect in the Chicago Cubs organization and a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.